When Johnson Brothers was founded in 1883 by Frederick and Alfred Johnson, their goal for their Staffordshire pottery was to produce an earthenware called “White Granite,” which is marked on many early pieces as “SEMI PORCELAIN.” It was a great material for dinnerware because it looked like china but was as tough as ironstone. As it turned out, though, White Granite would not be the product for which Johnson Brothers would become best known.

By 1888, Frederick and Alfred’s elder brother, Henry, had joined the company, which produced its wares in a factory called the Charles Street Works in Stoke-on-Trent, as well as at two other facilities nearby. By the end of the century, the family’s fourth brother, Robert, joined his siblings from a satellite office in New York, the number of Johnson Brothers potteries would climb to five, and the ware for which the firm would become most famous, transferware, would be added to the line.

With Robert drumming up sales in America, Johnson Brothers products were soon selling well in the United States, where transferware and flow blue porcelain were very popular. The quality of the ware was unquestioned, but the company’s mid-range pricing made it easy for people to fill their cupboards with Johnson Brothers products.

In the early part of the century, the sons of the brothers joined the firm to lead sales efforts across Europe. After World War I, during the 1920s, a new colored clay called “Dawn” was introduced—it came in gray, rose, green, and gold. By the end of the decade, several Johnson grandsons had also joined the firm.

Flow blue patterns produced by Johnson Brothers in the early years of the 20th century included Albany, Astoria, Brooklyn, Claremont, Clarence, Clayton, Del Monte, Dresden, Eclipse, Florida, Fulton, Jewel, Montana, Neopolitan, Normandy, Oregon, Oxford, Pansey, Peach, Pekin, Persian, Princeton, Richmond, Royston, Stanley, St. Louis, Tokio, Tulip, Venice, and Vienna. Later, in the teens and early 1920s, Andora, Argyle, Coral, Georgia, Holland, Kenworth, Mongolia, Savoy, Sterling, and Turin were introduced.

Most Johnson Brothers marks from those years had a crown on them, some with squared-off corners. The pattern name was sometimes printed with quotes around it, but more often it went without.

Beyond flow blue, Johnson Brothers produced numerous transferware patterns for its plates, platters, and pitchers. The firm is most often associated with patterns featuring wild ...

The 1930s saw the shuttering of the company’s original Charles Street Works and the replacement of its traditional coal-fired “bottle” kilns for all-electric tunnel versions. With a Depression on, it was a good time to modernize in the hopes of better days ahead.

After World War II, pieces in the Friendly Village pattern were widely sought, as were the company’s Christmas plates. By the 1950s, cups and saucers in the Carnival line featured bold solid colors and cups with tapering bases. The look was very Mid-century Modern, which was a long way from the company’s aesthetic roots. Finally, in 1968, unable to remain independent any longer, Johnson Brothers joined the Wedgwood Group.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)



Steve Birks' super deep site is a tribute to a bygone era, chronicling how a pottery center of excellence (they did… [read review or visit site]

The Bowes Museum: Ceramics

The Bowes Museum: Ceramics

This gallery showcases highlights from the 5,000 items in the museum's ceramics collection dating from 1500-1900. I… [read review or visit site]

Ceramics at The V&A

Ceramics at The V&A

A great reference on ceramics from the Victoria and Albert Museum. Learn about different ceramics techniques and st… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Most watched eBay auctions    

Old Red Wing Advertising Blue Banded Beater Jar~johnson Bros.~stonewareMerry Christmas Johnson Brothers England Punch Bowl +8 Mugs Cups Set Wow HohohoJohnson Brothers England Merry Christmas Oval Serving Bowl Dish 8"x 5.5" MintParagon Large Red Cabbage Rose Saucer Signed Johnson Pink Background Four Johnson Brothers England "merry Christmas" 10-1/2" Dinner Plates Exlnt CondParagon China Royal Blue/gold & Red Roses Reg Johnson Tea Cup & Saucer ExcParagon Red Rose Johnson Signed Mint Background Cup SaucerFlow Blue Egg Cups, Johnson Brothers, England, Pattern "normandy" - Lot Of 2Howard Johnson Pieman Creamer & Sugar/lid Walker China 1963 Restaurant WareFlow Blue Egg Cups, Johnson Brothers, England, Pattern "normandy" - Lot Of 3Johnson Brothers The Friendly Village 20" Oval Serving Platter Johnson Brothers Friendly Village Soup Tureen New In Box(4) Johnson Brothers England Friendly Village Dinner Plates - School HouseHoward Johnson Restaurant Ware Vintage Transferware Platter Mayer China Usa 158Flow Blue Johnson Brothers, Cream Soup Bowls Pattern "normandy" Rare - Lot Of 6Rare Johnson Bros Friendly Village- The Village Green 12 3/4" Sandwich TrayRose Chintz Johnson Bros Dinnerware Set Of 4 Serving Johnson Bros Red & White Teapot Made In England "old Britain Castles"Johnson Brothers Victorian Christmas Dinner Plates Set Of 8 New W/stickers 10.5"Johnson Brothers Dinner Plate "old Britain Castles" Christmas TreeVintage Gorgeous Johnson Brothers Friendly Village 4 7 1/2" Square Salad Plates!Johnson Bros His Majesty Large Pitcher Jug Original Box Johnson Brothers Twas The Night Before Christmas Dinner Plate 4 Pcs New In Box Johnson Brothers Old Britain Castles Pink Baker LargeJohnson Brothers Christmas Salad Plates "4 Pink Old Britain Castles Design"3 Beautiful Johnson Bros England Old Britain Castles Christmas Tree Plates (500)Vtg Franciscan Desert Rose Covered Baking Dish Casserole Johnson Bros PortugalJohnson Bros English Chippendale 6 Cup Coffee Pot Pink Red Johnson Brothers Johnson Brothers China Merry Christmas 20" Gravy Boat W/ Underplate Made EnglandJohnson Brothers Friendly Village The Well Dinner PlatesVintage 1951 Mayer China Howard Johnson's Restaurants Dinner Plate Nib Johnson Brothers 2013 Twas Night Before Christmas Collectors Plate NobleEnglish Chippendale Johnson Bros. England Gravy Boat And Tray3 Johnson Bros. Butter Pats 2 Friendly Village And 1 Water Mill 3 1/8"Johnson Brothers The Friendly Village Fireplace & Christmas Tree Coffee Mug CupVintage Gorgeous Johnson Brothers Friendly Village 4 8 1/2" Soup Bowls Nice!Set Of 4 Vintage Johnson Brothers "dream Town" Saucer Plate - Made In England C1Johnson Bros English Windsor Ware Teapot Pot - Red Floral Johnson Bros Strawberry Fair Square Salad Plate Set Of 4Tiffany & Co Herbs Johnson Brothers Plate Set - Parsley Sage Rosemary ThymeJohnson Brothers Dorchester Set Of 7 Seven 8" Rimmed Soup Bowls2015 Johnson Bros Twas The Night Before Christmas 10.5 Inch Plate Sugar PlumsLot Of 6 Vtg Johnson Brothers Friendly Village Sugar Maples Bread Dessert PlatesPair New Johnson Bros Xmas Mugs4 Johnson Brothers Old English Teal Green Fruit 10" Porcelain Dinner PlatesSet Of 8 Johnson Brothers England Heritage White 6 1/8" Bread Plates Excellent!Johnson Bros Blue Willow Platter 11 1/2 By 9 Inches Made In EnglandNice Johnson Brothers Old Granite "fruit Sampler" Pattern Small PlateVintage Johnson Brothers Friendly Village 5 10 Inch Dinner Plates England Nice!2 Johnson Brothers "dorchester" Dinner PlatesJohnson Brothers Dorothy Pattern Vegetable Dishes (8)!Blue Willow Johnson Bros Round Handled Vegetable Bowl Made In EnglandLot Of 37 Johnson Brothers "day In June" Multi-color -dinnerware -england $19.99(4) Johnson Brothers England Friendly Village Square Soup/cereal Bowls - EucJohnson Bros Harvest Time Sugar Bowl With Lid & Creamer Hand Engraved EnglandJohnson Brothers Olde English Countryside Square Salad Plate - 7 5/8"Johnson Brothers China Provincial Bread Plates Set Of 6 PerfectJohnson Bros Coaching Scenes Tea Cup & Saucer Blue And White Porcelain EnglandJohnson Brothers Game Birds Ruffed Grouse 11" Plate/platterJohnson Brothers Dorothy Pattern Cup & Saucer